Grace and Galen had returned with the yak's milk. Grace was still not sure that the effort was proportional to the result but was glad of the opportunity to practice shifting.
On returning to naval headquarters, Grace started to arrange for the refit of the Pinafore to make it capable of withstanding the worst possible storms and of chasing ships through it. Grace did not specify invisible ships. She wasn't sure that she would be believed about that part.
Grace's meeting with the naval architects and structural engineers was almost done, when Admiral Sharpe broke in to announce that there was a ship on the horizon. From its smoke signals, it appeared to be a small Memphis ship which had been attacked by pirates and was in trouble. There were always two frigates always ready to go out to deal with an emergency. Currently, those ships were the Shark and the Lion. The frigates were underway in less than half an hour.
It did not take long to reach the Memphis lifeboat. There were 12 somewhat battered sailors who declared they were survivors of a pirate attack which took place near Torn. Torn was a large rock island about 1/3 of the way to Memphis on the shadow path. Four pirate ships had ambushed the convoy of ships. Since the lifeboat survivors looked to be alright, Grace sent them on toward Amber, while she got the two frigates moving as quickly as possible toward the last known site of the convoy. Grace tried to hurry them there with her newly learned shifting ability.
It took 3 hours to get to Torn. As the ships approached, Grace saw the four pirate ships surrounding the Memphis convoy. Memphis ships were low without superstructure and powered by oars. The battle was long over, and the pirates were looting the Memphis ships passing treasure back to the larger pirate ships. Grace gave the orders to approach so that a broadside with the catapults would be most effective. The four pirate ships had no ranged weapons making this a straightforward action or so Grace thought. As the Shark and the Lion began to close to range, another pirate ship came around Torn, then another. Six ships with a couple of different angles of approach complicated the battle considerably, but Grace was still confident until the large pirate ship with multiple catapults on its decks came from around Torn.
Grace understood that this was an ambush, and a most unusual ambush. Grace had not heard of this large or welll coordinated a pirate fleet in more than a hundred years. This was a bad situation that Amber needed to be warned about. The one edge that Grace had was to take all these ships far away from Amber out into shadow.
Instead of engaging, Grace drew her ships past the pirates and out to the open ocean. The pirate fleet, now up to 8 frigates and 2 galleons followed as Grace had hoped. The ships were not in each other range. Grace's goal was to ship to a place with a large naval fleet (no organized navy likes pirates) and preferably a shadow Amber navy, a large shadow Amber navy.
Unfortunately from Grace's point of view, the pirates left two ships behind to guard the convoy. Grace continued heading away looking for that elusive shadow Amber navy that would even the odds against the 8 pirate ships. Grace wondered if the pirates might figure out they were being lead and stop following. At least, the pirates were well out in shadow and stranded far from Amber and its shadow paths.
Grace's efforts began to show some reward when the lookout spotted a ship flying a green flag with two white horses rampant. Just a little further, a shadow Amber navy ship was approaching. Unfortunatley, it used different signal flags so Grace was having problems communicating until the ship was alongside. This was rather late to let the navy ship know they were about to face 8 pirate ships. The new ship tried desperately to turn away but it was too late. It was forced into an exchange of broadsides with the two large pirate ships leaving it in flames.